Red lacquered wood, silicon rubber
fragment from skinning cattle by power 1867 (fig. 122 in Gideon) pertains to a recent line of research that examines the conceptual and material relationship between modernity and death. Historical accounts of modernist architecture have obscured the determining role of the slaughterhouse in its early development: agricultural constructions designed to optimize animal slaughtering and carcass waste disposal inspired the creators of the modern style, who abstracted and aestheticized the sharp functionality of the abattoir and its efficient organization of bodies in space. Using rubber — a material used for erasure, absorption and channeling flows —, Dean engraved a digitally manipulated illustration from the section dedicated to slaughterhouses in Mechanization Takes Command, a book by architecture historian Sigfried Gideon. The red wooden structure that holds the engraving mimics a revolving knocking pen door, a piece of slaughterhouse machinery designed to optimize livestock flow whose mechanism is activated when it is hit by the falling weight of a dead body. This kill door recreated in wood becomes the frame for an abstracted image of an abattoir scene.